The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is designed to promote accuracy and ensure the privacy of the information used in consumer reports. Recent amendments to the Act expand your rights and place additional requirements on Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs). Businesses that supply information about you to CRAs and those that use consumer reports also have new responsibilities under the law.
Recent studies have shown that the vast majority of Americans have significant errors on their credit reports. Errors can mean a reduction of your ability to get new credit, including car loans and home mortgages.
Without a careful review of your credit report you may not know a problem or inaccuracy exists until after you get denied for credit. It’s a good idea to check your credit report every six months to avoid these situations and resolve inaccuracies before they cause problems for you.
You have a right to know what’s in your credit report. The CRA must tell you everything in your report including, in most cases, the sources of the information. The CRA also must give you a list of everyone who has requested your report within the past year — two years for employment related requests.
The three major national credit bureaus are:
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013
(888) EXPERIAN (888-397-3742).
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
In addition, anyone who takes action against you in response to a report supplied by a CRA — such as denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment — must give you the name, address, and telephone number of the CRA that provided the report.
There’s no charge to you for a copy of your credit report if a company takes adverse action against you (such as denying your application for credit, insurance or employment) and you make your request for a copy of your report within 60 days of receiving the notice of the action; the notice will give you the name, address, and phone number of the CRA that supplied the information.
In December 2003, Congress passed the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act), which included the right to a free annual credit report on request and a number of provisions designed to improve the accuracy of credit reports. On June 4, 2004 the Federal Trade Commission finalized its rule for implementing the new consumer right to a free credit report, rolling it out over a nine-month period, beginning on the west coast in December 2004 and finishing on the east coast in September 2005.
Otherwise, there is usually a charge for obtaining a copy of your credit report; these costs vary among CRAs, but are usually less than $10.
A June 2004 report released by the U.S Public Interest Research Group indicates that 79% of credit reports contain mistakes of some kind, and as many as one in four credit reports contains errors serious enough to cause consumers to be denied credit, a loan, an apartment or home loan or even a job.
Both the CRA and the information provider have responsibilities for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. To protect all your rights under the law, it’s important to carefully review your credit reports and contact both the CRA and the information provider properly with enough information to support your claim.
You should receive the written results of a reinvestigation and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. If an item is changed or removed, the CRA cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the information provider verifies its accuracy and completeness, and the CRA gives you a written notice that includes the name, address, and phone number of the provider.
Though the law is designed to protect you, the fact is that a reinvestigation may not resolve your dispute; incorrect information may continue to be reported, or may reappear months after your dispute is settled.
We have helped our clients enforce their rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act by suing CRAs as well as creditors in state and federal court. These lawsuits have resulted in corrections to credit reports and financial damage awards for our clients.
We never charge any up-front legal fee for these types of cases. We get paid a legal fee only when we win a lawsuit on your behalf, so you never have to worry about paying a legal fee to protect your rights.